Opening a new chapter in bilateral relations, India on Wednesday began supplying electricity to Bangladesh in return for Internet bandwidth that will help connect its north eastern states, a move that Prime Minister Narendra Modi described as historic.
India will supply 100 megawatt (MW) of electricity in return for 10 Gigabits per second Internet bandwidth.
Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina launched the twin links through video conference.
“In my opinion this is an historic occasion,” Modi said as he nudged Dhaka to join the space cooperation with India.
India, he said, is marching shoulder-to-shoulder with Bangladesh in its progress and today is the opening of a new chapter, he said.
"In an era of inter-dependent world, the two nations have further strengthened their ties," he said.
Hasina said: “The relation between the countries has further consolidated through the supply of power and Internet bandwidth.”
As much as 100 MW of power will be supplied to Bangladesh from Tripua. PowerGrid Corporation of India Ltd has erected 400 KV line from Suryamaninagar (Agartala) to the Indian border while its Bangladeshi counterpart, PowerGrid Corporation of Bangladesh has laid a line from there to Comilla.
Simultaneously, a new gateway to give broadband connectivity to North-East states via Bangladesh was also opened.
“We have gateways in west and south but entire east was untouched. As part of my Act East policy, this gateway in the east is very important. The opening of eastern gateway in association with Bangladesh will bring connectivity to eastern region particularly Assam, Tripura and Sikkim,” Modi said.
Modi said previously road connectivity between Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Bhutan had been initiated. "Today we are doing electricity and digital connectivity... we have to cooperate in space too. It is our desire that Bangladesh joins India in space satellite mission too," he said.
"Bangladesh would observe its National day on March 26 and I pay my respect to the memory of the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh. The era of good relations began during the time of 'Bangabandhu' between the two countries which still continues," said Modi.
He was referring to 'Bangabandhu' Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding leader of Bangladesh and father of Hasina, saying he shared close bonds with India.
The eight north-eastern states would be immensely benefited with the opening of the third International Internet gateway, he said, adding that Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan have made considerable development in road links.
"Now India and Bangladesh are connected through water, surface communication and air. We want to be connected with Bangladesh though space also," the Prime Minister said.
In her speech, Hasina said: "We always remember India's cooperation during the liberation movement in 1971."
On the power supply, she said during her visit to Tripura in 2012, she discussed the matter of getting power from the state's Palatana project and it came true now.
Hasina said her country was getting 500 MW power from India now and both the countries made considerable development in the field of cooperation through roads, railways and power.
She also thanked Prime Minister Modi and Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar for their cooperation.
Sarkar, at the invitation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, also joined the programme from here through videoconferencing.
For the Internet broadband connectivity, Bangladesh Submarine Cable Co Ltd (BSCCL) has laid a 30-km optical fibre cable from Brahmanbaria to Akhaura, adjoining Agartala, while state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has set up an international long distance (ILD) gateway at Agartala along with associated equipment.
BSNL will lease international bandwidth in Bangladesh for Internet to connect North Eastern states with rest of India.
An international bandwidth cable is present at Cox's Bazaar in Bangladesh. The connectivity between Cox's Bazaar cable station and Akhaura at international border has been built by BSCCL. On Indian side, BSNL has laid about 3-4 km from Agartala to Akhaura in Tripura.
Before this link, telecom connectivity or basic bandwidth for networks was provided to North East from Chennai via Kolkata. The new link will be now a short route cable between Cox Bazar cable landing station in Bangladesh to Agartala through Akhaura.
The cost of the project is Rs 19.1 crore and BSNL will bear annual operational expenditure of USD 1.2 million from its own resources.
This link will deliver bandwidth of 10 Gbps which can be extended up to 40 Gbps.
India is already supplying 500 MW of power to Bangladesh through the Bahrampur-Bheramara inter-connection. Supply of another 500 MW was announced during Modi's visit to Dhaka last year.
Also, NTPC and BPDB of Bangladesh are working on 1320 MW Rampal power project.